Video cameras on DSLRs - Panasonic GH1

Panasonic GH1

£1,050 inc 14-140mm

Panasonic GH1 product shotThe GH1 is actually a Micro Four Thirds camera, not a DSLR, and uses an electronic viewfinder rather than an internal mirror/prism assembly. Consequently video is much easier to implement and this shows in the superior video specifications of the GH1.

Recording full 1080p HD at 24fps, or 720p at 60fps in AVCHD mode, it can also shoot in the Motion JPEG format† at 30fps if you prefer, in a range of sizes up to 720p. The built-in mic is Dolby Stereo, and there's a 2.5mm port for an external mic, such as Panasonic's own hotshoe mic, or a third-party model (for which you'll need a 2.5-3.5mm adaptor).

The GH1 is the smallest and lightest camera here, and in fact the heaviest part of the kit is the hefty 14-140mm (10x) f/4-5.8 zoom that's bundled with it and which was made especially for video, with near-silent AF and Image Stabilisation that can't be picked up by the mic.

The GH1 is unique here in offering a viewfinder for video recording, which gives more stability and is easier to see in bright light than a screen, but the LCD is also the best on test here, being a high-resolution tilt and swivel affair - making it easier to video at high or low angles, or even video yourself. The clarity and sharpness of both are exemplary.

The GH1 has full AF during recording and, in the Creative mode, full control of exposure and image settings. Recording is started using a dedicated button on the back. If you choose Manual Focus the image can be magnified to aid fine-tuning.

Image quality is excellent. The colours are less punchy than the EOS 5D's, but arguably more natural. The only real downside is in low light, where images are noticeably noisier than the Canon's. This is due in part to it having a sensor that's half the size, and partly to the relatively small maximum aperture of the lens, compared with the fast primes you can use on the 5D Mk II. Overall, though, the GH1 turned in a great performance.

Video Group Test: Video Modes - Panasonic GH1

The GH1 utilised the 1080p resolution to its full capacity,
producing some extremely impressive results.

Specs

Panasonic GH1

Price £1,050
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Compression Format AVCHD
Maximum Clip Length 29 Minutes
Screen Size 3"
Built-in Audio Stereo, 44KHz
Frame Rate 60fps, 24fps
Memory Card SD/SDHC
Sockets Mic, HDMI, AV, USB
Video Focus Modes AV, MF
External Mic Yes
Dimensions 124 x 89.6 x 45.2 mm
Weight 385g

Video Rating

Likes
Excellent screen, viewfinder, full manual control, high quality video

Dislikes
Slightly muted tones

Stars: 5 out of 5